Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Metro shares options, asks for feedback

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Those participating in Metro's call for suggestions got to see firsthand what they've been asking for Tuesday at the regional bus service's second public forum.

        The event at Union Terminal drew more than 200 concerned community members and officials. They were shown cell phones that can alert commuters when their bus is running late and show where the bus is on a downloadable map, safety cameras viewable on the Internet, and examples from cities such as Columbus; Charlotte, N.C.; and Orlando, Fla.; of other successful transit services.

        “The buses are really congested and crowded during rush hour, and the system needs to be overhauled,” said Tom Ewing, who commutes from Westwood to downtown on Metro route 21 to his job at the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. “They need to make these changes, and it's great they're getting everyone involved.”

        The event, part of the MetroMoves program, also highlighted the different approach Metro is planning for the future. MetroMoves began in May and has already elicited 10,000-plus responses on what should be done to improve the bus system that already provides 24 million rides a year in Hamilton County.

        “This is reverse than the way it was done 10 years ago,” said Paul Jablonski, general manager of the system. “Before, we would've taken what we thought were good ideas, given them to a planning firm, and then tried to sell it to the public.”

        The preliminary draft of a master plan is due to be released in January, said Leyla Hedayat, Metro project manager for the Raleigh, N.C.-based transit engineering firm Kimley-Horn & Associates.

        Mr. Jablonski said he was pleased with Tuesday's turnout, and hoped it would elicit even more response.

        “We've taken their words from earlier this summer and found examples and now we're saying, "Is this what you wanted?' and hopefully we'll hear back from them,” Mr. Jablonski said.

        Many of those who attended Tuesday's forum, which also included break-out sessions to get more feedback, said many of the examples would work well here.

        “There are times of the day that I won't even venture out on the road because I know traffic is bad,” said Bill Weber, 55, of Symmes Township. “The ironic thing is that I use public transportation every time I travel, but I can't in my own hometown. We are transportation consumers every day, but here we need a bigger menu.”


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